Plenty of credit for flood protection to go around

There’s a lot of good news lately on the coastal restoration and flood protection front.

Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove has announced that engineering for the Bayou Petit Caillou Lock System at Boudreaux Canal should be completed during this coming year and that in late 2019 the construction project should be awarded. The news could be greeted as just one more flood protection story worthy of a snooze. But that’s not the case. Each and every such project minimizes the likelihood of some number of Terrebonne Parish residents being just a little safer from the effects of storms. And while flood control and storm mitigation projects don’t eliminate the need for following of evacuation orders and other wise decisions, the public benefit cannot be overstated.

In Parish President Dove’s case, groundwork on these benefits began prior to his taking office in that role. As a State Representative for Terrebonne Parish, using his position on the House Natural Resources Committee and negotiating skills with the executive branch as well as other legislators, Dove can rightly claim credit now that they are coming to fruition.

There are others who can claim credit as well. Dove’s predecessor, Michel Claudet, laid initial plans during his administration for projects under completion now. Claudet was parish president when the Terrebonne coast was threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and made a number of good decisions at that time.

Now that Claudet is running for Dove’s seat in the Government Tower, there is a likelihood that both men — or their seconds — will provide conflicting claims of credit. It is our hope, however, that our coastal issues will not become political footballs. When Gordon Dove became parish president, he was lavish with his praise about work done under Claudet’s administration. Perhaps now not so much, and perhaps in future months even less so. But Dove, as the incumbent, can bring some refreshing air to the political climate by acknowledging his predecessor’s good works in regard to these vital undertakings.

It is our hope that better political angels of both candidates will prevail.

Another good announcement in regard to coastal protection came earlier this month when the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the award of more than $280 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for 21 new projects in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Developed in consultation with state and federal resource agencies, the projects are designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The announcement represents the sixth round of awards from the GEBF. That will bring the total amount awarded to Gulf communities to $1.3 billion, more than half the amount of dollars that will ultimately be dispersed.

By restoring critical coastal habitats such as marshes, oyster reefs and barrier islands, the projects supported by GEBF funding will benefit birds, fish, marine mammals and other wildlife while also reducing the risk of future harm from storms. The fund was created in 2013 to receive and administer money resulting from plea agreements between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean, in connection with the 2010 oil spill.

The latest funding round includes $161.4 million to support restoration of the Terrebonne Basin barrier island system, support of restoration and beach nourishment of West Belle Headland, Timbalier and Trinity Islands and future plans for maintenance of these vital barrier islands.

Louisiana’s share thus far of money from this fund is $625 million.

Like other tiles in Terrebonne’s coastal restoration and flood protection mosaic, the projects listed in this funding round are vital. They are also part of joint efforts by various local government agencies, including the office of the Parish President, the Parish Council and the often under-sung Terrebonen Levee and Conservation District, which pioneered many improvements and continues its important work.

While we believe that pointing out the multi-faceted nature of good news regarding flood protection and drainage is important in our role as an informer of the people, we also believe credit such as that claimed by Gordon Dove is well-earned and well-deserved. We look forward to informing readers of future developments, and are grateful for Parish President Dove’s commitment to keeping the public informed.